Monday, October 08, 2012

"Red Bull to photograph a free fall 36km above Earth"

Imagine free-falling from the edge of space down to Earth in around four minutes. It's a daredevil stunt most of us could only dream about, let alone witness.

Red Bull Stratos is the name of a mission that is trying to break the speed of sound, as one man hurtles towards earth from a stratospheric balloon. That man is skydiver and BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner, making the jump from a height of 120,000 feet — that's 36.5 kilometres above Earth.

To capture his jump for posterity will be a fleet of cameras also hurtling towards Earth. The camera system consists of three bodies and lenses for capturing cinematic, still and video images, including regular equipment like a Canon 5D Mark III and wide-angle lenses. But there's also many more cameras on board, such as some RED models.

"It's a very sophisticated system that's capable of three channels of live broadcast back to the Earth,  high definition recording, beyond high-definition with 4K cinematography cameras, and a system that basically is a flying television studio," said Jay Nemeth, an aerospace imaging specialist working on the Stratos project.

With temperatures as low as -56 degrees Celsius, Baumgartner has to wear a pressurised space suit fitted with an oxygen supply.

He has already successfully completed a jump from 28.9km above Earth, on 25 July, falling at a speed of 864km/h. You can see photos from the test flight courtesy of the Calgary Sun.

This isn't the first jump of its type to take place. Baumgartner is being mentored by Joe Kittinger, who made a similar jump from 31km above Earth in 1960. Kittinger used spring-wound movie cameras, while his cinematographer had to attach hot water bottles to the cameras to keep them working at the extreme temperatures.

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